Daniel Axim, second accused (A2) and a former Head of Operations at Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) has narrated how fugitive Christina Sedina Tamakloe Attionu pocked travelling allowances of staff.
He said the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MASLOC, Sedina’s Secretariat, kept part of staff travelling allowances.
Axim cited countless occasions where Sedina (A1) short changed staff on assignment out of the jurisdiction, by given them US$500 allowance instead of US$1,000.
He mentioned that MASLOC Head of Legal also suffered the same fate when his US$5,000 was split into two by Sedina.
According to him, the staff were compelled to keep this to themselves because they are public servants and, therefore, couldn’t challenge their CEO and a political head of the institution.
A2 has been accused alongside Sedina for raising 23 memos resulting in over GH¢1.5 million financial loss to the Republic of Ghana.
He stated during cross-examination by the Principal State Attorney (PSA) Winifred Sarpong and before Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe, a Court of Appeal judge, with additional responsibility of the High Court, on Tuesday, that the memos resulted in GH¢1.706,000 but collected GHc155,000 for A1.
The memos were allegedly raised to finance sensitisation projects across the country for transportation (T&T) and refreshments for beneficiaries.
A2 has denied ever benefiting from the sensitisation project funds, which he collects from the Account office and hands over to Sedina for disbursement.
He reiterated that collecting money from the Account and handing it over to the CEO or political heads is not a new phenomenon at MASLOC.
The second Accused told the court that there have been several cash collections that were done by himself and other officers for the CEO without documentation.
“I remember vividly that her driver (A1), Neequeye, also collected some of the same sensitisation programme money that I generated a memos for. The same applies to Nana Serwah Tawiah and Anita Gaffer,” he said.
Although MASLOC started sensitisation project in 2010, it was A1 who introduced the payment of transport for beneficiaries.
He explained that the payment of T&T for participants was Sedina’s baby because it was not part of the initial plan.
Continuation of cross-examination
Q. And as Head of Operations, you are very instrumental in the execution of projects?
A. No. I was instrumental in the 2016 project.
Q. So you were instrumental in the execution of 2016 Sensitisation projects?
A. Yes. I was I part of the 2016 project. The word instrumental, I don’t know what it is about if being part of the project then I am part.
Q. So as head of Operations and Sensitisation projects, you were very much involved in the execution of the projects?
A. Yes I was very much involved.
Q. The 2016 Sensitisation project was supposed to be carried out nationwide. Correct?
A. Yes. The Board of Directors have approved a nationwide Sensitisation T&T and if my lady, will permit me, Sensitisation has always been part of operations’ activities, but without T&T until 2016 when A1 decided that T&T be given to participants of the Sensitisation programme. It has always been part of our activity as operation activities.
Q. This approval by budgets by the board, GH¢1,706, 000 for 85,300 would be for the beneficiaries?
Q. And each beneficiary was to receive GH¢20?
Q. On each occasion that the project was to have taken place, you generate by way of a memo with attached budget to the head of finance requesting funds to be realised for the project?
A. No. That’s not correct. On each of the occasions that the CEO wants us to undertake Sensitisation activities at any district or region, she instructs me to generate a memo. When I generate the memo, it goes to her officer for applicant just like I generate memo of other activists. She then approves the memo and her secretariat will send it to the Head of Finance.
So I don’t generate memos directly to the Head of Finance for Sensitization programme. So I don’t generate memos directly to the head of finance for Sensitisation programme across the Country.
Q. But you generate the memos, which eventually lands on A1s desk?
A. Yes, by her instructions.
Q. And as Head of Operations you pick the cash from the accounts office each time it was ready?
A. I have picked some of the monies that the account office had collected from the bank at the instance of the head of finance calling me that the money was ready I should come and take it for A1 and I did exactly that per her instructions.
Permit me to add that collection of cash from accounts to the CEO for a Sensitisation programme is not the only aspect of cash collection that myself and other officers have done.
I remember vividly that her driver (A1), Neequeye, also collected some of the same Sensitization programme money that I generated a memos for.
The same applies to Nana Serwah Tawiah and Anita Gaffer also collected the same Sensitization funds that I generated a memo and indicated that they should also give it to
Cash collections for A1 or political heads is not new in MASLOC, because there have been other instances that myself and other officers have collected money from accounts office to
A1, without any documentation to show that she has collected the monies from us.
Her Secretariat sometimes collect monies on our behalf and this happens when we were traveling to China for official duties.
Myself, A1 and Neil Vorleto, our traveling allowances were collected by her Secretariat and instead of $1000 to be given to each of us, she gave us $500 each and up to today the rest of the $1000 has not been given to us.
Another trip to Dubai for a training programme with Mr Dekaiyie Isaac, the same way her Secretariat collected our traveling allowance and instead of $1000 each we received $500 each and the rest still pending.
I could add that the Head of Legal, Mr Pius Desusa, whose $5000 was divided into 2 for a trip to Egypt for inspection of MASLOC vehicles to be procured. So my lady, cash collection on behalf of either the CEO or any other stuff of MASLOC is very normal and happens usually.
Q. I’m putting it to you that in all, you generated 23 memos that resulted in the cash office paying over GH1,550,000?
A. My lady, I generated memos that paid GH¢1.706,000. It is true my lady that I collected GH¢155,000 and handed over to A1. The rest were collected by the driver, the Secretary and the PA, all those monies collected by myself and others were handed over to A1 at A1’s instruction. But I cannot remember the number of memos I generated as of now, unless I have the memos to count whether it is 23 or more.
Q. MASLOC had offices in the then all the 10 regions?
Q. The regional offices were headed by regional officers?
Q. You will agree with me that if MASLOC was going to undertake a project in any of the regions the regional heads would be have been aware?
A. Yes they always have been aware or informed on any project to happen in their region
Q. The regional officers will not only be aware, but they will also be involved?
A. Yes. They will be involved, but I wish to ask that I can only speak for operations department. There are several other projects that go on in the region without my involvement. Example is human resource training programme, auditing training programmes, and account department training programme. If they use the same criteria or informing them in advance is yes.
Q. Are you aware as part of the investigation in this case MASLOC was audited by Balfour & Associates?
A. Yes I’m aware.
Q. Are you also aware that the audit done by Baffour & Associates…
A. I’m aware.
Q. Are you also aware that the auditors raised issues with the sensitisation memos?
A. Yes, I’m aware.
Q. Being the head of operation in-charge of the project, you were called upon to respond to the questions raised by the auditors on most of the amount?
Q. As Head of Operations, you were made to answer questions pertaining to the sensitisation?
A. Yes, the forensic auditors raised memos or queries and I answered all their queries and it is part of their final reports.
Q. Your response to the auditors queries is contained in appendix J (your response to the auditors query) of appendix AA..
Q. In appendix J on Exhibit AA, you categorically stated that no T &T and refreshments were given to the participants under the sensitisation programme?
A. My lady, in my second paragraph of the response, I mentioned that even though we visited all the regions T&T and refreshment was not given to the beneficiaries and that was my response given to the forensic auditors.
I later realised that we have given T&T in parts of the Volta, Greater Accra and Brong Ahafo regions, and the response of the regional managers to the queries raised by the forensic auditors is also captured in the same forensic audit reports.
My Lady, this the regional manager of Greater Accra (Appendix K 12), Mr Shadrack Quaicoe has listed 3 areas that they had given them T&T and refreshment and that is Kwabenya, Odododioodoo and Prampram.
Then the next is Brong Ahafo region Appendix A14, and the areas that were given the T&T and refreshments were Biakoye District, with five groups, Adaklu District, 1 group, Ho West, 8 groups, Nkwanta South, 3 groups, Hohoe 5 groups, Jasikan, 11 groups, Afadzato South, 5 groups and Karachi East, 4 groups.
The regional manager is George Adeka. My lady, this could be found at Appendix K 2.
These are the three areas that I remember vividly that we had conducted or given out the monies for refreshment and T&T.
Q. I’m putting it to you that appendix K2 relates to monitoring and evaluation whereas appendix K8 relates to sensitisation and monitor, disbursement and the two are not the same.
A. My lady, activities in MASLOC are always reported by the regional managers. Issah was a regional manager at the Brong Ahafo region at the time, if you go through the forensic report thoroughly we shall realise that the monitor and evaluate and Sensitisation and evaluation have been used interchangeably in many instances.
I remember we had T&T and refreshment for queen mothers in Brong Ahafo and I will want to add that Foster, the Credit Officer and Donyina, who initiated appendix K8 document, are not the authority of the region, therefore, their responses do not surpasse that of the regional manager.
Q. You have mentioned that you have provided refreshments for sensitisation in Accra. How much?
A. I cannot remember the exact amount that was spent on the Sensitisation in Greater Accra. Most often the money to be given to the participants is given to me at the venue of the programme depending on the number of people present and together with the regional manager we do the disbursement.
But, the time we have finished there is nothing left to be given back to A1 because she calculates the people who are around and give us to disburse.
Q. I’m putting it to you that in your investigation caution statement you stated that or you claimed that you have paid GH¢500 to each participant in Greater Accra and Volta Regions for the sensitization and G¢300 for the Brong Ahafo region.
A. Yes, I stated in my written submission to EOCO that GH¢500 for Brong Ahafo, Volta was GH¢300 and Bono Ahafo is GH¢700.
Q. I’m putting it to you that, no sensitization was held in the Brong Ahafo region?
A. Yes, there was a sensitisation.
Q. I’m putting it to you there was no sensitisation held in the Ashanti region?
A. There was but A1 told me that she will return and later do the disbursement of funds. She had done it previously in 2015. Also, when she told me that she will return and do the money disbursement, I didn’t challenge her after all she is my CEO and I’m just a public servant.
Q. You just said A1 always assured you that she will go back and do the disbursement, did you ask for any proof?
A. There was no need to ask for any proof. In 2015, when she did it with her team, I was not involved. In 2016, she decided to do it by herself, and reporting on that is between her office and account.
MASLOC sensitisation policy, which I was part of formulation in 2010, does not come with T&T and refreshment, so when she decides to do that one on her own, I can’t challenge her for taking that decision because giving out the money is not directly operations job, so I took it as her baby. It is up to the finance to reconciliation with her.
Q. I’m putting it to you that you did not ask for proof of the disbursement of the sensitisation because you were benefiting directly from the monies that she had taken
A. I wasn’t benefiting or never benefited from any money for sensitisation program from A1. The amount I quoted during my interrogation at EOCO had nothing to do at all with Sensitisation
Q. I’m putting it to you that you and A1 conspired to steal monies meant for the sensitisation program?
A. I have never conspired with A1 to steal any amount belonging to MASLOC for a sensitisation programme.
My role as a head of operations was to raise the memo for her approval. She approves of it and her secretariat sends it directly to account. Either her secretariat collects the money and hands it over to her. I have never conspired with A1 to steal any money belonging to MASLOC.
Q. I am finally putting it to you that because you and A1 stole monies belonging to the Sensitisation…?
A. I have not stolen any money belonging to MASLOC nor cause any financial loss to the state. I collected all the monies that was meant for the programme and gave them to A1 per her instructions and also as a public servant, my duty was to carry out instructions from my CEO.
The forensic auditors also provided my response of the memos to her and she has not denied the fact that I gave the monies to her. The conclusion of the forensic audit was that all of what I did …was in the cause of our duty. So I have not held a pesewa of the sensitisation money to myself and I have not caused any financial loss.
Q. I’m putting it to you that A1 per her investigation cautioned statements denied receiving any money from you?
A. I was shocked when I read her statement because it is not true. I have all the monies given to her. Just that the head of finance did not want to speak the truth but he is aware.
I wonder why she did not respond to my Memos that the forensic auditors provided to her about the monies that I have given to her. I have not held any sensitisation money everything was given to her. I have not kept or benefitted from any Sensitisation money given to her.